NEA Increase Passed by U.S. House

05/20/05

1. NEA Increase Passed by U.S. House!

2. July 4 Capitol Events Changed

1. NEA Increase Passed by U.S. House!

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Congressional Arts Caucus Amendment to increase funding for the National Endowment forÊthe Arts (NEA)Êby $10 million and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by $5 million. For the first time ever, the amendment passed by voice vote, which means there will not be a detailed record ofÊwho voted for or against this amendment.

Early in the floor debate, it became very clear that an overwhelming majority of Members supported this arts funding increase, in part because of the steady stream of constituent messages pouring in over the last 48 hours. We heard from Americans for the Arts that Minnesotans had generated the third largest numbers of emails to our members of congress – behind only New York and Florida! We suspect that arts opponents avoided a recorded vote in order to spare embarrassment.ÊThank you for your incredible hard work! We would not have achieved this terrific outcome without you. The Congressional Arts Caucus Amendment was sponsored by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Chris Shays (R-CT), Norm Dicks (D-WA), David Price (D-NC) and Jim Leach (R-IA). Ê

The only voice of opposition to the amendment was Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Charles Taylor (R-NC), though it is important to note that Subcommittee Chairmen generally oppose all changes to their appropriations bills. Ê During debate, those speaking in favor of the amendment noted the increase in funding paled in comparisonÊto the economic return generated byÊthe arts. Members offered examples from Americans for the ArtsÕ Creative Industries study, noting the number of arts businesses and employees in their district. Ê

Two other amendments that would have cut arts funding were also shot down by overwhelming margins.

The first amendment was offered by Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO), and would have transferred $15 million from the NEA to the Payments in Lieu of Taxes conservation program. That amendment failed by a vote of 109-311. Ê

Here’s how our members of Congress voted on this amendment:

YES, CUT ARTS FUNDING by $15M:

Gil Gutknecht, R-CD1 (southern Minnesota)
John Kline, R-CD2, (southern suburbs, Burnsville to Redwing to Faribault to Waconia)
Collin Peterson, D-CD7, (north west quarter of state) * This is a change in the way he usually votes. On the next amendment to cut $30M from the NEA, he voted “NO”
NO, DON’T CUT ARTS FUNDING BY $15M:

Betty McCollum, D-CD4, (St. Paul and eastern suburbs)
Jim Oberstar, D-CD8, (north east quarter of state and Arrowhead)
Jim Ramstad, R-CD3, (western metro suburbs)
Martin Olav Sabo, D-CD5, (Minneapolis)
Mark Kennedy, R-CD 6 (St. Cloud and northern Twin Cities suburbs to Stillwater) * This is a change in the way he usually votes. On the next amendment to cut $30M from the NEA, he voted “YES.”
The second amendment was offered by Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), and would have transferred $30 million from the NEA to wildland firefighting activities. That amendment failed by a vote of 122-298. Ê By way of comparison, the amendment offered last year by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) to reduce NEA funding in favor of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement failed by a vote of 112-313. Here’s how our members of Congress voted on this amendment:

YES, CUT ARTS FUNDING BY $30M:ÊÊ

Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-1)
Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-6)
Rep. John Kline (R-2)
NO, DON’T CUT ARTS FUNDING BY $30M:

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-4)
Rep. James Oberstar (D-8)
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-7)
Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-3)
Rep. Martin Olav Sabo (D-5)
Send a pre-written letter about the NEA funding votes on the DESKTOP LOBBYIST to your member of congress that will automatically note which way he or she voted, and either thank or express your disappointment in their vote. Try it out!

What’s next? Once the bill passes the House, it will move to the Senate for consideration, at whichÊpoint our advocacy efforts will also turnÊto the Senate to approve aÊsimilar funding increase for the two cultural agencies. Ê Thank you again for your support of the arts!

2. July 4 Capitol Events Changed

We had previously reported about some July 4 events being planned around the State Capitol’s 100th birthday this year, some of which will involve the arts.

Most of the events are still going forward, although they are no longer doing a parade, due to some complications. They have decided instead to focus on providing a July 4th celebration that focuses on the Capitol and offers an opportunity for all Minnesotans to have greater holiday access to the Capitol grounds. The revised July 4th celebration festival format will involve a “1905 Concert & Ice Cream Social” on the Capitol mall. Much of the original parade spirit will be incorporated into this family-friendly celebration. A 1,000 voice choir remains at the center of this festival along with entertainment, tours, historic exhibits, games, flags and food.

This revised event provides greater opportunities for family activities, and for getting better acquainted with the Capitol, its history and ongoing purpose. They understand that this change in the July 4th celebration format may require a re-thinking of how you would like to participate in the festivities. Volunteers, exhibits, and food, beverage and merchandise vendors are still needed. Plus, the giant choir, under the direction of Philip Brunelle, still has room for more voices and the mall has space for thousands of picnickers. For the latest information, keep checking their Web site at www.ourhouse100.com. The 2005 Capitol Centennial Commission enthusiastically invites your continued participation in this old-fashioned get-together for all Minnesotans. If you have any questions about additional opportunities at the Concert & Ice Cream Social, please contact Sylvia Olson at solson@tunheim.com or 952-851-7246.

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Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is a non-partisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organizes the arts community and lobbies the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts. If you are interested in learning more about how to advocate for the arts, or how to activate people in your arts organization or community to lobby for the arts, please call us at 651-251-0868 or e-mail mca@mtn.org.